Installing program upgrade may cause frustrating 'Unrecoverable Application Error'

Personal Computers

January 20, 1992|By Michael J. Himowitz

John just had a wisdom tooth extracted. Betty just installed an updated version of her word processor. Guess who had more fun?

If you've updated an important piece of software recently, you'll probably opt for the dentist.

With publishers falling all over each other to bring out newer, more powerful versions of their programs and keep their users from switching to something else, they've forgotten a few basics.

Such as making sure the new programs work.

The trade magazines and message boards on Compuserve, Genie and other online services are full of complaints about new versions of once-reliable programs that choke on old files, print graphics in the wrong places or just crash and burn, leaving you staring at a blank screen.

The worst part is that most users think they've done something wrong. They spend hours or days of their valuable time trying to fix the problem when it's not their fault.

If your time is money, or you're paying people to wrestle with this

stuff instead of producing what you pay them to produce, you'll probably wish that you'd stuck with the old version of whatever you were using.

I wish I had. Over the past week or so, I've spent the equivalent of a full working day tinkering with Ami Professional 2.0, a word processor that runs under the Microsoft Windows environment.

Don't get me wrong. I like AmiPro. It produces beautiful business correspondence and good-looking fliers without much hassle. In other words, it does what it's supposed to do. Or at least it did.

Having been through upgrades before, I resisted the temptation to call Lotus the day it announced AmiPro 2.0. I waited a couple of months, figuring the company would get the worst of the bugs out. That was my first mistake.

My second mistake was installing the upgraded version on a Friday night -- when Lotus' support lines were closed for the weekend. As a result, I couldn't get any work done for two days.

The problems started as soon as I loaded an old file -- a two-page flier that used several typefaces and a half-dozen small graphic images. When I told AmiPro to print the document, I got the message that bedevils millions of Windows users: "Unrecoverable Application Error."

This is Windows' way of telling you that the programmers screwed up, or that you did something they hadn't expected -- in this case, I guess, printing a document.

When you get a UAE, as it's known in the trade, Windows becomes unstable. You have to return to DOS and start up again, a process that takes a minute or two, or an hour or two if you have to do it 30 or 40 times.

Having spent a few years supporting other computer users, I hate people who scream for help at the slightest hint of difficulty. I dutifully read through the installation guide and manual. They didn't say anything about the program bombing when you try to print something.

I figured the trouble might be a conflict between Adobe Type Manager, the font package that comes with the new AmiPro, and Bitstream Facelift, the font manager I'd been using (now remember, this was a document that printed out with no problems under the old AmiPro).

So I exited from Windows, started it up again, disabled Type Manager, exited from Windows again (you have to do this), and started Windows again. Are you following me? Then I started AmiPro, loaded the document and tried to print. UAE again.

Sooooo, a trouble-shooter to the core, I exited from Windows again, started it up once more, disabled Facelift, enabled Type Manager, exited Windows, started it up again, loaded AmiPro, changed all the typefaces in my document to their Adobe equivalents and printed it again. Another UAE.

Without going into more gory detail, I spent hours enabling, disabling, changing typefaces, and ducking in an out of Windows. I began to panic, since I had dozens of documents sitting on my disk that were useless.

Finally, I logged onto the Lotus support forum on Compuserve. There I found a technical bulletin that said AmiPro 2.0 wouldn't print in the background using Facelift. I left a message explaining the problem to Lotus' technical support folks and did what the bulletin said to do.

That finally got one or two documents out of the printer. But others containing graphic images still bombed. In fact, I found out that the program wouldn't print any of my graphics -- even if the document contained no text at all.

The next night, I logged on to Compuserve again (at $12 an hour, mind you) and found a message from Lotus support telling me to do what I'd already done. Sigh. I left another message to Lotus, a bit testier.

I also found a message from a user named Keith Dibley, who said he'd had the same trouble. He said AmiPro 2.0 wouldn't work with the latest version of the Hewlett-Packard LaserJet printer driver that comes with Windows. He suggested that I find an older one.

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